Mind, Intellect, and Ego

By Mati Gilbert

Mommy-Ears!  If you have had a child or cared for one, you know what this is. It is your ability to know, without hearing a sound or cry, that your child needs you — before or just as it happens. At this time in life, this is a blessing. When my son was an infant, I would sit outside his bedroom door, just listening. Later, somehow, some way, my Mommy-Ears were activated. I could sleep comfortably in my bed, being aware. This was before electronic baby monitors.

This ability becomes a curse when you take comments about your child to heart, even taking it as a criticism of your parenting. This can happen if your child fails a test, gets into a fight does something not sanctioned as good. “OMG!  People will think I am a terrible mother. How could I let this happen?”

The opposite is also true. You might like to share stories about your child’s good deeds with others. “See, I am a good Mom,” patting yourself on the back. This is your ego kicking in! In reality, your child is an individual who must grow into taking credit or blame for his or her own actions. And you must deal with your ego, without taking it out on your kids or using it to hog-tie them.

Ego is one of your mind’s three functions:

  • your outward-looking (always busy) mind,
  • your intellect which analyzes and names,
  • and your ego which uses outer things to create your sense of identity.

When you accept credit or blame for a thought or action, you’re using it to create an identity that you feel good or bad about.

Mind and intellect work together to empower you to perceive things, as well as analyze, classify, and categorize. Your highest use of them is to prioritize finding your own inner Self — your Divinity, which is already complete within. Ego, the function of mind that creates your identity, then identifies with Consciousness, which is your own Self.

“The ego knows that if your sense of smallness were to go, it too would have to go. The ego shows you to yourself in a wrong light.” — Swami Muktananda

Ego is your mind’s ability to build a sense of self when you say “I,” creating the limited sense of “I am a woman,” “I am a mom.” When you remove the last word in each of these phrases, you end up with “I am.” Now the “I” is pure Consciousness.

Swami Nirmalananda says, “Once you receive Shaktipat, you are on the path toward the knowing of your own inner Divinity. As you grow into your Self, your ego is transformed.  It is put in service to Consciousness.”

When my son returned home from college, my Mommyy-Ears were again activated. They hadn’t gone away, but had been dormant. I would lie in bed waiting for him to come home, not asleep and not awake, just aware.

Finally, my intellect told me my ego was not involved in this. My son, now an adult, is responsible for his own actions. I care but I’m not in charge. That night, I turned off my Mommy-Ears. I let go of that identity, moving past my ego and past my mind, which freed me to open my heart and find the inner knowing of my own inherent Divinity.